Genomic Inferences of the cis-Regulatory Nucleotide Polymorphisms Underlying Gene Expression Differences between Drosophila melanogaster Mating Races

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Abstract

Nucleotide sequence polymorphisms affecting gene expression occur in the regulatory region of genes (in cis) and elsewhere in the genome (in trans). Further study is required to weigh the relative importance of cis- and trans-acting mutations in mediating gene expression differences within and between species. Here, microarray hybridization experiments were used to isolate 363 gene expression differences between the female fly head transcriptomes of 2 Drosophila melanogaster strains. One strain (French) represented the cosmopolitan M mating race and the other strain (ZS30) represented the Z mating race derived from Zimbabwe, Africa. From chromosomal substitution strains engineered from the 2 strains, we inferred that the expression differences between M and Z alleles largely could be attributed to the genotype of the chromosomes where the differentially expressed genes were located, that is, cis-regulatory polymorphisms prominently influence gene expression differences between M and Z. The effects of trans-regulatory polymorphisms were apparent yet difficult to quantify. Results have implications for models of gene regulatory evolution as well as experimental studies trying to identify the nucleotide sequence polymorphisms underlying gene expression differences between Drosophila strains.

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